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TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

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TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:01 pm

TR: single-day Alpine-Touring backcountry skiing January 8, 2016
Dominic D., Marc & Brenda B. - from Visalia
Nothing long, but a simple pictoral report of a SEKI backcountry skiing and shuttle trip on one day in January

Departed home in Visalia 6:30 AM; destination Wolverton, Sequoia NP. Got to about 5 miles shy on the Generals Hwy and was stopped for ~45 mins. while road crews cleared a huge fallen tree trunk (not a Giant Sequoia, thank God).
20160122_164205.jpg
View of the Western slope from Visalia the previous day

The Road to Wolverton was unplowed due to recent heavy snows (more than 3 feet were reported). We drove most of the way down the single-track after removing the road sign until the plowing abruptly ended. Then we had to back all the way back out.

Decided to do the trail to ski the Twin-Lakes trail out of Lodgepole Campground. Arriving at the Campground, the place was deserted so we were able to enjoy some prestine powder without a single soul to bother.
SEKIskiing5.jpg
Crossing a clearing near Lodgepole Campground

SEKIskiing1.jpg
skinning across Lodgepole Campground toward Tokapah Falls

SEKIskiing2.jpg
Crossing the Lodgepole Campground bridge. Note snow levels high above the railing

We skied to about 9,000 ft. or so, roughly following the trail as we went. We realized quickly that we would not be able to get far pushing through 2'+ of fresh, heavy snow which clearly was densifying as it sat in the sun. Turning around, we executed some survival turns including some exciting drops off of large rocks onto snow perched precariously on Manzanita which fell off in big *PLOUGHS* exposing the underbrush below.
SEKIskiing3.jpg
me topping out on the ridge above Lodgepole. Seussian snowscapes abound!

Arriving at Lodgepole, we decided to try out some shuttle skiing from Wolverton to Lodgepole that we had heard of from a Pear Lake Hut Master.
By this time, the Wolverton Rd. had been plowed and we had no problem getting to the TH.

We arrived to the Wolverton TH parking lot around 1 PM to find a VW bus plowed around and almost completely hidden by deep powder. We had to kick-step stairs into the side of the snowpack to get to the surface of the snow, but when we got up to the level, we had the pleasure of much softer powder which had obviously been preserved by the deep shade.
SEKIskiing6.jpg
Kick-stepping up onto the snow level at the Pear Lake TH (Wolverton).

Here is where things got REALLY great. It only took a few turns to realize that we had hit SEKI POWDER PAYDIRT!
SEKIskiing7.jpg
POWDER!!!!!!

As there were three of us, we decided to do a 2skier/1driver arrangement. Two of us skied down as the other drove around to Lodgepole to pick us up. We were able to enjoy 1000' or so of boundless fresh powder turns two at a time until it began to get dark. God bless wet years.

:) -Dominic D.
SEKIskiing8.jpg
Brenda showing the cool way to remove skins

SEKIskiing9.jpg
Ready to drop down into the gorgeous whiteness
SEKIskiing10.jpg
Brenda is all smiles as she turns!

NOTE: all photos courtesy of Bergreen Photography
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SEKIskiing4.jpg
friends - smiles on skis



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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:02 pm

Very cool (pun intended), looks like 1000' of pure down hill fun from those smiles.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby limpingcrab » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:46 pm

I didn't realize you were Dominic! This is Daniel Jeffcoach, and I don't appreciate not being invited. Consider your climbing wall privileges revoked for 10 minutes.

Also, glad you shared, that looks fun, and I'm sad powder days look to be done for the year.

Thanks!
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby balance » Wed Mar 30, 2016 7:10 am

Greetings pulldownfrenzy

Nice trip report. Good photos. Thanks for taking the time to take the pictures and share your fun and adventure with us.

Question: It looks like you were using Randonee, or Alpine Touring skis, with a lockdown heel. Not telemark gear, is that correct? I've been snowshoeing for years, and you ski guys just glide past me like I'm stuck in mud. I've done conventional resort-type skiing, but never used skis for getting around in the back-country. I keep thinking about going to travelling and camping on skis.

Any recommendations?
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:51 am

limpingcrab wrote:I didn't realize you were Dominic! This is Daniel Jeffcoach, and I don't appreciate not being invited. Consider your climbing wall privileges revoked for 10 minutes.

Also, glad you shared, that looks fun, and I'm sad powder days look to be done for the year.

Thanks!


Haha. Sorry Daniel - this trip was rather last minute and I didn't get a chance to invite you. My bad. You were invited on the last trip we did (in Feb), however.

I didn't know but could have figured you were on here - everybody cool is, right? I know who you are - how many "limpingcrabs" are there?

W.r.t. powder days being done... definitely day-trips from the car. However, I've been thinking of a high-country trip on the Eastside starting out below 1st - 3rd Lake (below Temple Crag) and heading up to Sam Mack and perhaps hitting a few 14ers. Interested?

Last three weeks in April were the plan. 3-4 days. Full mountaineering kit and snow camping. Ever skied with a 45 lb pack?
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:05 am

balance wrote:Greetings pulldownfrenzy

Nice trip report. Good photos. Thanks for taking the time to take the pictures and share your fun and adventure with us.

Question: It looks like you were using Randonee, or Alpine Touring skis, with a lockdown heel. Not telemark gear, is that correct? I've been snowshoeing for years, and you ski guys just glide past me like I'm stuck in mud. I've done conventional resort-type skiing, but never used skis for getting around in the back-country. I keep thinking about going to travelling and camping on skis.

Any recommendations?


Hi Balance,

Thanks. I've been doing trips for 15+ years with almost no record of any of them and I've finally decided to try to take the time for posterity and to share with my family and others. People see these posts and realize that even weekend warriors with children <6 yrs. old still get out (at least on the rare occasion).

Regarding the ski set-up: I grew up in PA cross-country skiing, then moved out West and picked up Alpine resort skiing. When I started doing more steep dangerous terrain in deep powder with a heavy pack I began to realize that I needed to make a change. I did a trip in 2004 with a friend out to Pear Lake and I snowshoed in with my alpine skis on my back. That was the turning point for me. It is so much better to ski with skins and be able to enjoy the trip down. To be able to ski all the way back to your car is a pleasure indeed.

You are correct; my set-up is Alpine-Touring (A/T). I have 115mm wide 182cm long side-cut Dynafit Manaslu skis with Dynafit TLT Vertical FT bindings and Scarpa AT boots with Dynafit skins custom-fit to the skis. This is a true free-heel ski set-up that is light as hell, but allows those of us who are married to a locked-stable binding the ability to feel confident in our turns (and some vertical drops here and there - see photo). I have been very happy with the results of the set-up. I have carried up to 50 lb loads up and down very steep terrain with full confidence.
sequoia-backcountry-skiing-13-900x600.jpg
this is why I like AT bindings


Hope that helps. I'd be glad to answer any other Qs you have.
:) -Dominic D.
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby balance » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:02 am

Greetings Pulldownfrenzy

Especially in the picture with Brenda taking the skins off her skis, it looks steep. And with powder through the trees, that's some righteous skiing. I'm thinking if Warren Miller gets wind of this, it's goodbye 9-5 and off to Val-d'Isere.

I checked out the equipment you mentioned. That's a really functional, efficient way to get around the back-country. Looks like you guys are ready for a trans-Sierra trip. That would be my dream adventure.

Thanks for the information and inspiration.

Peace.
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:49 am

balance wrote:Greetings Pulldownfrenzy

Especially in the picture with Brenda taking the skins off her skis, it looks steep. And with powder through the trees, that's some righteous skiing. I'm thinking if Warren Miller gets wind of this, it's goodbye 9-5 and off to Val-d'Isere.

I checked out the equipment you mentioned. That's a really functional, efficient way to get around the back-country. Looks like you guys are ready for a trans-Sierra trip. That would be my dream adventure.

Thanks for the information and inspiration.

Peace.


Balance,
It is steep in sections - if I recall, it is steep at the top and shallows out toward the bottom near the road.

You definitely want to feel comfortable in your turns. Good to try this out in-bounds at a ski resort so if you make a mistake it isn't so high consequence. You have to be comfortable with whatever weight you have in your backpack as well, which of course varies from person to person but is more than one would carry at a resort with avalanche safety equipment, bivvy kit, food, etc. Another thing about backcountry that is different than resort skiing is that you're skiing carefully over big rocks, creek crossings, avoiding tree wells, and over dead fallen trees. At one point we had to actually ski over a fallen giant sequoia which was quite the experience (it was like 10 or 12' diameter)!

Oh man, I would LOVE to do a trans-sierra trip. Been a dream of mine for a long time. A number of obstacles have prevented me from doing yet:
1) the right conditions - so I don't have to boot-pack sections in the middle of nowhere
2) enough time off from work (I think I'd need a full week at least, possibly more considering the drive home)
3) someone crazy enough to do it with me!
4) the danger aspect. I'm not in the best of condition, I'd like to really strengthen up for it. It is a very committing endeavor - there is really no bail route - 50 miles or so with no exit plan. Things go "south" out there, you have to have your wits about you.

I will do it some day. Just like I'd like to ski the "Red Line" peak to peak up one 14er and down the next. That's an even bigger ambition. I'm thinking by the time I hit 40 I'll be burly and experienced enough to do it. I've got 6ish years.
:) -DD
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby balance » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:31 pm

Hey Pulldownfrenzy

You don't need anyone to go with you on a trans-Sierra ski trip. Just watch a couple Warren Miller movies, and you will have all the skiing techniques you need. Then watch "Jeremiah Johnson" and "The Revenant". You'll be totally prepared to handle whatever could happen in the back-country. :^o
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Re: TR: FINALLY a SEKI powder day! backcountry skiing

Postby Pulldownfrenzy » Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:45 am

balance wrote:Hey Pulldownfrenzy

You don't need anyone to go with you on a trans-Sierra ski trip. Just watch a couple Warren Miller movies, and you will have all the skiing techniques you need. Then watch "Jeremiah Johnson" and "The Revenant". You'll be totally prepared to handle whatever could happen in the back-country. :^o


Right. In the same way that watching Cliffhanger with Sly Stallone is all the preparation you need for climbing El Cap.

I've bailed a lot more routes than I've climbed.

;) -DD
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